I love to integrate contemplative spirituality, beauty, and playfulness into meaningful creative experiences for groups and individuals of all ages. I have worked for years (often with a talented group of creative people) to incorporate creativity into liturgical seasons, retreats, small groups, individual prayer, and family life. I'd love to hear your ideas and together craft a creative experience that will serve your group or event. Below are a few samples of my previous projects; click on any image below for brief descriptions of the work. However, most of my work of this sort has not been photographed and is best explained in conversation, preferably over a good cup of coffee.
This church was going to be torn down and rebuilt. I worked with a team of artists (Matt Hoppe, Kristen Terry, Erica Chapman, Carrie Montalto, Juan Thomassie, Rachel Hoppe, Elizabeth Parish, Rachael Foster) to incorporate the destruction of the building into the Lenten season. Photo by Erica Chapman.
The back wall of the sanctuary was painted black. Each Sunday in Lent, parishioners were invited to swing a sledgehammer at the wall after the Lenten litany in a visceral expression of frustration and brokenness. Photo by Erica Chapman.
After Good Friday, we exposed a circle of the wall, removing all the sledgehammer marks. We painted the surrounding black a luminous gold, and painted a band of gold around the entire sanctuary. Photo by Erica Chapman.
We repurposed structural mesh from the wall rubble as a border for the exposed wall. We hung a new cross in the space, handmade by a parishioner. At the first alleluias of the Easter Vigil, this transformed wall was revealed, a visual representation of our hope in broken things being made new. Photo by Erica Chapman.
Throughout the sanctuary, different artists were invited to paint the word "Alleluia" (not spoken during Lent) in gold, connecting with a gold band painted around the room. These alleluias were hidden behind barren black and white photographs until the first spoken alleluias in the Easter Vigil service. Photo by Erica Chapman.
I created one of the alleluias, incorporating the word into the cityscape of Arlington, VA (where the church is located). I did so by creating a stencil from a personal photograph of the cityscape. Photo by Erica Chapman.
I created booklets for participants in a retreat for international Christian workers, held in a coastal hotel in West Asia. These booklets guided participants through the retreat sessions and provided space for notes. In addition to booklets, I also designed and led creative experiences for retreat participants along with a team of pastors, teachers, musicians, and artists.
Retreat participants were each given a bookmark with the retreat theme from Job 14. The bookmarks served as a small gift and a lasting memento of the weekend.
I created a loose, sculptural assemblage of dried vines, twigs, seaweed, and driftwood collected from the sea just outside the retreat location. This piece hung on the wall throughout the retreat, a visual reminder of the thematic concepts of dead trees and water. Photo by Erica Chapman.
Over the course of the retreat, I guided people through memories of suffering. They were encouraged to write words of lament for these memories on dark paper. We added these to our sculpture, creating a sort of "wailing wall" - a wall of our collective laments. Photos by Erica Chapman.
Me and my daughter hard at work in between retreat sessions to prepare the wall. Photos by Erica Chapman.
After creating the lament wall, I guided people from sorrow to hope through prayer, song, and individual sculptures (using pipe cleaners - a favorite medium!). By the end of the retreat, we were able to see the wall as a symbol of beauty and hope rising from sorrow. Photo by Erica Chapman.
A group was conducting a weekend retreat for a Cambodian church on the theme "Complete Joy." I created retreat booklets for each participant to take notes throughout the weekend.
The back cover for the Complete Joy retreat - the weekend's theme verse from 1 John.
In addition to booklets, I designed a collaborative art project for retreat participants, which added a creative, hands-on dimension to the theme and discussions. Photo by Laurel Hanke.
Retreat participants were guided through a process of making mixed-media collages. Each layer of the collage represented a new aspect of the theme of Complete Joy and underlined the accompanying teaching times. Photo by Laurel Hanke.
As participants collaged, they were able to connect with the ideas and concepts of the retreat in a right-brained way; that is, visually and experientially. They were also given the opportunity to simply play and create, imitating a childlike delight and deepening their experience of the retreat theme of joy. Photo by Laurel Hanke.
After each individual's collage was completed, they were woven together into one large tapestry and hung in a sunlit place. Because they were created on vellum paper, the collages allowed sunlight to pass through, a visual representation of joy.